Pandemic's excess card rule states that if you have more than 7 cards in your hand at any time, you must discard the excess (according to your preference, of course).

Let's say you're the Scientist, have 5 city cards and 2 special cards (like the airlift, or research center build card). The Researcher comes to town and gives you the remaining 1 color city card that will allow you to cure a disease as soon as you get to a research facility.

Let's also say there's only two players (Researcher and Scientist). And that this is the last color that needs to be cured.

This takes you to 8 cards - over the amount allowed.


When do I, as the Scientist, need to play / discard my excess cards (in this case, let's take the two special cards as the ones to play) so I am not in violation of the excess card rule, but also so I maximize the value of the Researcher's endowment of city cards?

edited to reflect the limit of 7 vs 8, as noted by Gendolkari

1 Answer 1


First, note that the hand limit is 7 cards, NOT 8 cards!

You cannot hold more than 7 cards in your hand for any length of time. This means that while you are holding 7 cards, the researcher cannot give you 2 cards. Actions are one at a time, so first the researcher would give you a card, at which point you would be over the limit. Before any other action is taken, you must discard down to the hand limit. Once you are at 7 again, the researcher can give you another card now, at which point you will need to discard again.

You can play special event cards instead of discarding, however. So the answer to your question is that you need to play/discard your excess cards immediately, before any other action is taken.

From the rules:

If you ever have more than 7 cards in hand (after first resolving any Epidemic cards you may have drawn), discard cards or play Event cards until you have 7 cards in hand (see Event Cards on page 7).

and under the Share Knowledge action details:

If the player who gets the card now has more than 7 cards, that player must immediately discard a card or play an Event card (see Event Cards on page 7).

  • good point - though the question remains, just with the reduced number :) .. updated the question to reflect the proper number :)
    – warren
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:23
  • 2
    @Gendolkari - perhaps I could've worded it better .. I mean the question still stands, just edited to 7 from 8: your answer is exactly what I was looking for in a clarification :)
    – warren
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:42
  • 1
    I still think this question is fair. The rule about Hand Limit falls as a subheading under the main heading of “DRAW CARDS”. The aside about resolving infections further strengthens the argument that this rule is about drawing cards at the end of your turn, not at any time in the game.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 21:18
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    Aha, we found the deterministic answer. At the very end of the rule book, there is a section titled “Commonly Overlooked Rules,” and it specifically states: “Your hand limit applies immediately after getting a card from another player.”
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 21:26
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    @Rob: That's just the order they decided to lay out the rulebook. The actual rule on Hand Limit is generically applied whenever one player receives cards (e.g. due to drawing, Share Knowledge, etc.) The rulebook could do with a Catan-style index of key concepts and their page no.
    – smci
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 4:39

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